apap072
New York State Modern Political Archive
Collection ID: apap072

Center for Law and Justice Records, 1985-2000

Collection description

Summary

Creator:
Center for Law and Justice (Albany, N.Y.)
Abstract:
In the summer of 1984, Jessie Davis, a young Black man was shot and killed by police in his Arbor Hill apartment. His killing served to galvanize the African-American community in Albany to seek change in the way the Police Department treated community residents. One outgrowth of the community's outrage over the killing was the birth of The Center for Law and Justice in 1985. The Center helped to keep the case before the public, gave moral support to the Davis family, assisted attorneys with a federal lawsuit against the city, and organized community demonstrations and fundraising events to cover legal expenses related to the family's suit. The Center's overall mission has been to promote the empowerment of people to change what they believed was the oppressive nature of the total criminal justice system, although the organization has continued to focus much of its work on policing issues. Dr. Alice P. Green, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, Inc. donated 13 boxes of records to the M.E. Grenander Special Collections and Archives at the University at Albany Library in June 2000. In November 2000, three more boxes were donated.
Extent:
12.75 cubic ft.
Language:
English and English
Preferred citation:
Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Center for Law and Justice Records, 1985-2000. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).

Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to this record group is unrestricted, except for Series 2 and Series 5, which have restrictions.

Terms Of Use:

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Background

Scope and Content:

Dr. Alice P. Green, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, Inc. donated 13 boxes of records to the M.E. Grenander Special Collections and Archives at the University at Albany Library in June 2000. In November 2000, three more boxes were donated. Two included prisoner intake information and correspondence and the other contained copies of the Center's publications, scrapbooks about the Davis case and board meeting minutes. The scrapbooks and minutes were photocopied and the originals returned to the Center. The collection is extensive and includes documents such as grant proposals, newspaper clippings, membership information, financial statements, photographs, legal documents about the Davis case and the ensuing lawsuit, and conference information. The collection also includes information on various prisoner cases that the Center was working on and letters from prisoners throughout the state. The collection begins with the founding of the Center in 1985 and spans through 2000.

Series 1 of the collection contains grant proposals from 1990 to 1997 that the agency applied for and either received, renewed or was denied. Federal, state, local, and private grants provided a large portion of the Center's financial security. Though grants were not always stable or guaranteed, the Center for Law and Justice had several that were long-term, supplemented by short-term funding. Based on the information in this series, the United Way is a substantial resource for the Center. The New York Bar Association also provided funding a directory entitled Free Legal Information and Services in the Capital District.

Two other projects, Project Prep and Project Embrace were important parts of the Center's work. Project PREP (1994-95) was a crime prevention program for poor young people who often did not readily receive the nurturing or information they needed to develop into responsible, law-abiding and contributing citizens. The program consisted of a curriculum that included cultural education, positive survival skills, and nonviolent empowerment programs. [See "Center for Law and Justice Programs", Series 1, Box 1, Folder 14]. The primary goal of Project Embrace: An Outreach Model to Prevent Violence (1990-97) was to broaden community understanding about the nature and source of violent behavior. It also promoted the perspective that much of the violence addressed by the criminal justice system should be recognized as a public health issue. [See the Executive Summary of the Project Embrace submitted proposal in Series 1, Box 2, Folder 1].

Grants were solicited from government agencies and private corporations including the Albany City School District, Albany Housing Authority, Center for Economic Growth, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, Combined Federal Campaign, Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Mohawk-Hudson Community Foundation, NAACP, New York Bar Association, State Employees Federated Appeal, TJMaxx, United Way, and WMHT Telecommunications. Some of the projects included, Holding Our Own, Mechanic Assistance Program (MAP), Prevention and Empowerment Project (PREP), Project Embrace, Project Vote, and the Safe Schools Grant.

Series 2 contains membership information spanning from 1992 to 1997. The series is restricted because it contains personal information about prison inmates, who made up the bulk of the Center's membership. Some letters concerned their individual cases. The series also includes form letters from the Center soliciting membership and blank membership forms. Many of the membership forms include copies of checks paid to the Center for yearly dues. Many of the forms came with notes and letters to Alice Green expressing thanks and appreciation for all of the work the Center has done.

Series 3 encompasses the various tasks and planning activities that surround the Capital District Community Conference on Crime and Criminal Justice. The series includes detailed information for the first four conferences, 1991-1994, and the programs for the fifth and sixth conferences. A survey for the 1995 conference may be found in Series 4 (Subject Files) under miscellaneous.

The Center for Law and Justice, Inc. began sponsoring annual conferences on May 18, 1991. The goal of the conferences was to bring together law enforcement officials, human rights advocates, and community members to address a wide range of controversial issues concerning bias in the criminal justice system and its impact on people of color, women, children and other groups. The conferences were one-day events, with keynote speakers, educational workshops, and strategy sessions. [In press release issued by The Center prior to the Conference. See Series 3, Box 1, Folder 2].

Series 4 contains subject files spanning from 1982 to 1984 and 1990 to 1993. Series 4 is primarily made up of official correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. The correspondence ranges from thank you letters to invitations for special events and also includes personal letters to/from local agencies, universities, leaders and activists. There are a few letters from inmates in these files, however that kind of correspondence is almost entirely found in Series 5. The correspondence in the series is from 1990 to 1993. Other subject files include information on Albany Law School, CAARV (Community Action Against Racism and Violence), the Community Police Board, Dr. Green's doctoral dissertation, financial statements, insurance information, syllabi for a course entitled Law and the Black Community (a course Dr. Green was teaching).

Series 5 is probably the most interesting and poignant piece of the collection. Prisoner Intakes and Letters, 1988-1998 consists of prisoner intake files that primarily contain letters from the prisoners to Alice Green or to her staff. You can also find letters responding to the prisoners' inquiries and/or needs from Alice Green and her staff. The correspondence ranges from letters of introduction, explaining why they were incarcerated in the first place and what services or information they seek from the Center to Christmas cards. Some of the letters come from family members advocating on behalf of a loved one in prison. Most of those letters are from mothers and wives. The correspondence contains very personal information on the inmates and sometimes on the people they victimized or allegedly victimized, which is why the series is restricted.

Series 6 contains a collection of newspaper clippings that The Center for Law and Justice maintained about issues and events that affected the criminal justice system, especially as it pertained to race and the African American community. There are also clippings on the African American community as a whole, both locally and nationally. The articles span from 1985 to 1995, though articles from pre-85 and post-95 may be found randomly throughout the subject areas. The subject areas include Affirmative Action, African American Families, African American Females, African American Males, African Americans, African Americans in Albany, African Americans in the Media, AIDS, Albany, Alternatives to Incarceration, Center for Law and Justice, Civilian Control of Police, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Community Policing, Courts, Crime, Crime Economics, Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice System and Race, Crime Prevention, Death Penalty, Death Row, Drugs, Education, Female Prisoners, Forfeiture Bill, Fourth Amendment, Grand Jury, Juries, Insanity Defense, Misconduct, NYS Legislature, Police Brutality, Poverty, Pre-Trial Release, Prisoners, Prisons, Public Defense, Race and Media, Race and Racism, Schenectady, Tenants' Rights, Troy, Use of Force, Violence, and Youth.

Series 7 is a small collection of photographs of special events held and sponsored by The Center for Law and Justice. There are some notable people from the Capital District that are featured as speakers or that are being honored.

Series 8 is made of the administrative files of the Center. This includes annual reports, legal documents, certificate of incorporation, tax forms, financial statements and board meeting minutes. The documents are incomplete and there are several gaps in time for some of the files.

Series 9 consists of a small number of Center publications including The Advocate. The collection of The Advocate is incomplete. There is also a folder of "publications by others" relevant to the work done by the Center. The Advocate is a quarterly community criminal justice journal. First published in 1992, The Advocate serves to inform and educate the community about the criminal justice system and how it operates. Regular features include the demographics of the state prison population, significant local and national criminal justice news briefs, summaries of important legislation and court decisions, writings by prisoners, book and film reviews, and guest editorials.

[The Center for Law and Justice Annual Report, 1998-99, p. 12].

Biographical / Historical:

Administrative: Center for Law and Justice, Inc.

[The information in the Administrative History for both the Center and Dr. Green was taken from the Center for Law and Justice website: http://www.timesunion.com/communities/cflg/ (accessed 2000)].

In the summer of 1984, Jessie Davis, a young Black man was shot and killed by police in his Arbor Hill apartment. His killing served to galvanize the African-American community in Albany to seek change in the way the Police Department treated community residents. One outgrowth of the community's outrage over the killing was the birth of The Center for Law and Justice in 1985. The Center helped to keep the case before the public, gave moral support to the Davis family, assisted attorneys with a federal lawsuit against the city, and organized community demonstrations and fundraising events to cover legal expenses related to the family's suit. The Center's overall mission has been to promote the empowerment of people to change what they believed was the oppressive nature of the total criminal justice system, although the organization has continued to focus much of its work on policing issues.

The Center, located in downtown Albany, New York, has primary target areas of service in Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. However, it responds to requests for information and assistance from people across the state and country. Early on, the Center subsisted primarily on private donations and small local foundation grants. For the past five years, the United Way has been an important funding source. In addition, the Albany Housing Authority contracts with the Center to provide crime and drug prevention services to its residents. Volunteers and student interns from the regional colleges and universities also make a valuable contribution in needed services to the agency.

The Center is considered one of the strongest advocacy groups in New York State for people adversely affected by the criminal justice system. The media, academia and the community have become dependent on the expertise of the Center in matters related to the criminal justice system. One of the major contributions of the Center is a published report that analyzes the relationship between the Albany Police Department and the residents of the Albany community. In addition, the Center has studied and responded to almost every major issue relating to criminal justice including racial profiling, community and police relations, citizen police review board, death penalty issues, parole changes, families of prisoners, and sentencing. The Center also coordinates special events for Martin Luther King Day to raise the consciousness of people about the treatment of individuals affected by the criminal justice system.

The Center for Law and Justice, Inc. was first called the Albany Justice Center, Inc. The name was officially changed with the New York Department of State in the summer of 1990. [See the organization's constitution and other documentation in Series 1, Box 2, Folder 6. (United Way grant)]. The Center's activities range from client intake, advocacy and referral to community conferences on crime and prison legislation. The Center also publishes three newsletters: The Advocate, a quarterly community criminal justice journal; On Your Own, a directory of community services for women; and Free Legal Services, Information and Assistance, a directory of resources in the Capital District.

The agency is made up of an executive director, currently Alice Green, and staff. In addition, the Center has a Board of Directors that includes four officers (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer) and a group of directors. There is also a Legal Advisory Committee and finally general membership made up of community leaders, advocates, donors, area residents, and prison inmates.

The Center for Law and Justice, Inc. is a not-for-profit, community-based organization founded in 1985 to address criminal and juvenile justice issues and problems that significantly impact on poor communities, communities of color, and other powerless groups and individuals. Supported by private donations, grants, membership dues, volunteers and student interns, the Center seeks to involve a diverse community population in carrying out its mission. Located in Albany, NY, the Center addresses criminal and social justice issues primarily in the Capital District Area. The mission of the Center is to promote the empowerment of individuals and communities in order to change social policy and bring about fair and just juvenile and criminal justice systems. The Center's three major goals are to:

1. Serve as a clearinghouse for legal, juvenile and criminal justice information, education and referral.

2. Provide individual and group-based advocacy that promotes social justice.

3. Support the social, economic and political empowerment of individuals, groups and communities. [Taken directly from the organization's information pamphlet. See Series 1, Box 1, Folder 14. (PREP Proposal)].

Biographical: Dr. Alice P. Green

Dr. Green is the Executive Director of The Center for Law and Justice, a not-for-profit community organization that monitors criminal justice activities, provides legal assistance and criminal justice advocacy' organizes efforts to change social policy and empowers poor people and people of color. Before she founded the Center, she was Legislative Director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. In 1985, Governor Cuomo appointed her to membership on the Citizens Policy and Complaint Review Council of the New York State Commission on Corrections. A year later, he appointed her to the position of Deputy Commissioner for the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, where she was in charge of strategic planning, policy, and information.

Dr. Green is an adjunct professor at the University at Albany. She has worked as a secondary teacher and as a social worker. For many years she served as the Executive Director of Trinity Institution, a youth and family service center in Albany's South End. While serving as Director, she founded the South End Scene, one of the longest published Black newspapers in Albany.

Dr. Green writes and lectures on racism and criminal justice issues. She is co-author of a book recently published by Greenwood Press. It is entitled, Law Never Here: A Social History of African American Responses to Issues of Crime and Justice. Her education includes a doctorate in criminal justice and master's degrees in education, social welfare and criminal justice.

An active participant in her community on policing, court and corrections issues, Dr. Green singles out her membership on the advisory board of the Fund for Modern Courts and the New York State Defenders Association, and her work as a prison volunteer. For her work in the community, Dr. Green has received numerous awards that include:

- The distinguished Alumna Award from the Rockefeller College, University at Albany

- Service Award from the Albany Chapter NAACP

- Woman of the Year Award from the YWCA

- Founder's Award and Community Service Award from the Scene newspaper

- The Community Service Award from the Albany Social Justice Center

- Tile Service Award from the Israel AME Church in Albany

- Shaker and Mover Award from the National Organization for Women

- Black Solidarity Award from Prisoners of Auburn

- Distinguished Service Award from the Prisoners of Green Haven

- New York State Bar Association Public Service Medal

- 1994 Victor A. Lord Courage of Convictions Award

- Certificate of Recognition from The Lifers' Committee, Shawangunk Correctional Facility

- Community Service Award - Walls Temple AME Zion Church - 1998

Center for Law and Justice, Records

Acquisition information:

All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Dr. Alice P. Green, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice in June and November of 2000.

Arrangement:

The collection is organized as follows:

.

Series arrangement statement: SUNY will complete.

Processing information:

Processed in 2000 by Rosann Santos, December 2000.

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Restrictions:
Access to this record group is unrestricted, except for Series 2 and Series 5, which have restrictions.
Terms of Access:
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Preferred citation:
Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Center for Law and Justice Records, 1985-2000. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).